Abygail Andebrhan credits her career trajectory back to a high school guest lecturer. When the Genetics, Cell Biology and Development major heard from the head of the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation about the health and societal impacts of individuals dealing with this disease, she was immediately intrigued and wanted to learn more.
“During her discussion, I learned about how there was a social justice aspect behind the disease in the United States,” Andebrhan says. “It’s affected by race and people who have it tend to be African American. With that, they’re treated differently, and as a Black woman in America, I’ve always been very passionate about combating injustices and inequality in our society.”
The aspiring physician is set to graduate this spring despite this being only her second year on campus, She completed two years of courses through the Post-Secondary Education Option while still in high school. Despite her relatively short time on campus, Andebrhan dug into her interest in health and research as a CBS undergraduate, volunteering with the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation of Minnesota and conducting research in a genetic engineering lab on campus.
“Learning about gene editing has been fascinating as I realized you can go in and potentially resolve the one mutation that causes sickle cell anemia,” she says. “Seeing that you could potentially go in with CRISPR and fix that, I knew I wanted to know more about this.”
In addition to her science experience, she plans to serve as a community assistant in the dorms this year as a way to engage further with the communities around her.
“I want to be able to surround myself with different people and grow my cultural awareness,” Andebrhan says. “I want to fight for different people’s rights, but I want to also understand people’s different views and perspectives.”
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2021 edition of BIO, a magazine for College of Biological Sciences alumni, donors and friends.